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Plantar Fasciitis: an illustrated explanation of why your foot hurts

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photo: who am i today

Plantar fasciitis is a very common form of foot pain and one that I find really interesting because it manifests in both really active runners and relatively sedentary people.  How can a person that is training for their third marathon develop the same pain as someone that doesn’t exercise much more than walking from their desk to their car?  You can’t purely blame it on over or under-use if the desk jockey and the super athlete are getting the same thing.  So what is causing the bottom of people’s feet to hurt so much and for so long?

The short answer: (a combination of the following factors)

  1. The shoes you wear all day (not just while running)
  2. Your posture & movement patterns (how you sit, stand, walk and breathe all day)
  3. A nerve irritation in your low back
  4. Weakness in your feet and tightness in your calves
  5. Fascial restrictions in your visceral system affecting the blood and nerve flow to your feet

The long answer:
It is typically a series of on-going events that leads to you developing that burning, pulling, aching pain on the bottom of your foot.  You may have one or all five of the above issues.  If your pain has lasted a long time, it is worth exploring all of them.  Read on for details…

1. The shoes you wear all day…

It is hard to talk about foot pain and not mention shoes.  I have written a number of articles on this blog already about feet.  If you are convinced that your shoes are the culprit please read these articles too:

All too often, plantar fasciitis gets blamed on a ‘lack of support’ and this bothers me. 

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Posted in Blog, Feet, Pain, Shoes Tagged with: , , , , , , ,
4 Comments ↓

Why Feet Hurt

Sore

We are born barefoot and are genetically built to stand, walk and run with our feet interacting with the ground.  Our feet are built to be both shock absorbers and rigid levers for us to push off with.  They have allowed human beings to navigate over uneven ground, hard, flat planes and soft, spongy meadows for thousands of years.  It is only relatively recently that we started flattening out our world with concrete and supporting and cushioning our feet with fancy shoes and orthotics.  The feedback our bodies get from our feet is a crucial part of posture, balance and movement development, but we tend to cut that off almost immediately by putting our children in stiff, cushy running shoes as soon as they can walk.  As people grow up, the role of work, fashion, and sport dictate their footwear choices and it usually comes at the cost of body awareness, foot strength and balance.  As a result, it is almost the norm for people’s feet to slowly deform over time and develop bunions, hammer toes, fallen arches and plantar fasciitis.  Ultimately footwear choices become less and less about fashion and more and more about cushioning and supportive comfort as we age.  This path is a major source of balance and pain issues throughout life.

The mechanics of our feet are closely tied to those of our hips.  Tightness or weakness in one will directly affect the other, which ultimately affects the whole body.  There are 3 main arches to the foot.  The main one being the medial longitudinal arch, this is the part that will pronate (flatten) or supinate (arch up/over).  There is also a smaller lateral arch along the outside of the foot, but the most overlooked arch is called the transverse and is suppose to dome up the front part of the foot.  Read More

Posted in Blog, Feet Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,
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Shoes: good support or coffins for your feet?

Shoe Coffin

I will preface this post by saying the best thing I ever did for my feet, my posture and my pain was to stop wearing traditional shoes.  I am very hypermobile and have very high arches in my feet and throughout my athletic life I have been slowed down by foot pain and blood blisters on the balls of my feet and big toes (sorry for the details).  I had tried all different types of shoes, orthotics and tapes, so in 2008 I decided to start working in only socks most of the day and never turned back.  Going barefoot taught me a lot about my own body and how I was creating my own hip and back pain.  The feedback I was getting from my feet helped me become aware that I was standing entirely on the outsides of my feet and how that related to the tightness and aching in my hips.  From the ground up, I progressively became aware of how one part of my body was affecting the other and I have been able to successfully strengthen my feet, loosen my hips and eliminate almost all of the chronic issues I was having.

You will find the Why Feet Hurt video at the bottom of this post.

Being a physical therapist, seeing 14 people a day with different body and foot types, has allowed me to test my posture and movement principles within myself and on my clients.  I have helped a lot of people discover how their feet affect their bodies and their bodies affect their feet.  I have learned that how you hold your upper body can be the root cause of your bunions and how you use your hips can dictate if you pronate or supinate in your feet.  There is very much a trickle up and a trickle down effect on posture, alignment and movement.  Read More

Posted in Ankles, Blog, Feet, Posture, Shoes Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
64 Comments ↓

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